Sunday, May 3, 2015

Spring Lambing At A Neighbors' Farm

I stopped in at the neighbors' barn one morning because I knew it was lambing season and they had a barn full of sheep:

I've heard of a "dog in a manger," but never before a "cat in a manger:"

Both the husband and wife were out in the barn when I arrived, and they were excited. I could tell a crisis was in progress:

The crisis was that two ewes had given birth to twins. One lamb had died already and this pair was struggling to survive. The lamb on the left was too weak to nurse, so their owner had milked out some colostrum from the ewe and fed it to the lamb. Its feeble cries were getting weaker and it didn't appear able to stand up. It was not expected to live:

 The rest of the sheep, however, were happy and healthy:

The sheep on this farm were mostly of mixed origins, largely Katahdin and Dorper, both primarily meat breeds:

The little pied lamb on the left was particularly appealing:

They'd just received their morning's hay and everyone was busy eating:

This is Mary, named for the nursery rhyme, "Mary Had a Little Lamb." She was a bottle fed baby and has remained tame all her life. Mary is old now, and is the main attraction when folks come to see the sheep. She's always friendly:

This ewe with the golden face was the mother of the pied lamb a couple of photos up:

And of course there were barn cats:

The owner fetched some stale bread and we fed the ewes. Well, actually she fed the ewes because they weren't interested in taking any bread from me, a person they didn't know. I helped the husband move a big round hay bale, thanked the couple and took my leave:

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Red Poll Girls - An Update

The cows got the last big, round bale of hay on April 18, though I've been feeding them small, square bales ever since then. I gave them their last small, square hay bales yesterday morning. I will now calculate their rate of consumption, the length of the hay feeding season, etc. for next year's planning:

Little Annie is cautious about muscling her way into the feeding frenzy, but she does eat hay when it looks safe to do so:

Amy and Jasmine have no such hesitation. They push and shove to get all the hay they can eat. By the way, the odd coloration in this photo is partially a result of the camera and the angle of the sun - but also partly true to life. I've noticed that as they shed the winter coats, the cows often look slightly orange:

And speaking of four-legged-appetites, that's Rosella on the left with little Annie just behind her. At the rate Annie is growing, she'll be as big as her older cousin very soon:

"Excuse me, excuse me. Just looking for a nibble of hay, please:"

Once mealtime is over, the ladies lie around, burping and chewing their cuds:

Big bellied girls, digesting their hay:

Annie truly knows how to get comfortable:

Who, me?:

The grass began to take on a slight green tint in mid-April and that was good enough for the Red Poll girls. They've been supplementing their hay with what little green grass they can find ever since. This week's warm weather has caused a spike in grass growth. In fact, everything is now beginning to turn green and growing at an accelerating pace:

I was standing inside the barn when I took this picture of Amy, Violet and Annie. They were waiting for me to get out of the doorway so they could come inside for grain:

The day I put out the last big, round bale of hay, the bale feeder was behind a short section of fence. All the cows watched me as if they didn't know how to get around the fence. Apparently they did, however, for they ran to it as soon as I drove away on the tractor:

Thursday, April 30, 2015

What's New Around The Farm

The pace of life has increased as the snow has melted. The chickens, locked up for a week to keep them safe from our marauding fox, are once again free to roam during the day. I round them up about dinnertime and herd them back indoors for the night. As for the fox, I presume that something or someone killed it because it has disappeared:

As the ground thawed and the spring rains began, I used the tractor bucket to reopen the trench in which water drains away from the barn:

The drainage trench runs from the barn to the dirt road:

My thirteen bantam hens were laying so many eggs that I was feeding them to the dogs. Alas, both Seamus and Jack (especially Jack!) were rapidly gaining weight. This pan of 27 eggs was their last breakfast of scrambled eggs. Since then, I've been giving the eggs to the family across the road who plows my snow in the wintertime:

The fantail pigeons have bill billing and cooing in a most charming way, but now that the weather is warm enough to raise babies, they aren't:

The hens check every inch of ground for possible edibles and tractor tire tracks are a good place to look for earthworms:

And bugs might be hiding along the base of the barn:

Every morning I open their door and watch them all scramble down their ramp, excited to begin their adventurous day:

Both the house and barn have filled with flies. The flies (and ladybugs) in the house seem to die as soon as they emerge, but the flies in the barn are alive and active, crawling all over the windowpanes:

The neighbors were actively sugaring this spring. They seem to be all done now, though the lines are still up:

I open the pigeons' window on nice days, but they have not been going outside. This one bird got as far as the windowsill for a look around - and that's about it. I guess they figure they're warm, safe and fed indoors, so why invite trouble?:

A lawn full of chickens. There are rotten apples all over the ground there, but the chickens don't seem to be eating them: